A New View in Excel


I have used many of my blogs over the last couple of years to talk about PowerPivot in Excel 2010 and Excel 2013. By now you should have a pretty good idea how to build data models and analyze your data. You many even have used the Pivot Chart capability to display your data results visually. But did you know that there was another way to visualize your data within Excel 2013?

Just like PowerPivot that now comes preinstalled with Microsoft Office Excel Professional Plus 2013, so does Power View. To use this tool, you must also have installed Internet Explorer and Silverlight on your computer. If you have those prerequisites, you can enable Power View by opening the options dialog in Excel and selecting Add-Ins. At the bottom of the right panel is an option to manage different classes of Add-ins. Using the drop-down menu select: Com Add-ins and click the Go button. From the list of available add-ins, locate Power View and make sure the checkbox to the left is selected. Then click OK.

Next open the Insert ribbon in Excel 2013 and click the Power View button that appears in the Reports group. If this is your first time using Power View, you will need to enable it by clicking the Enable button that appears. This opens a separate Power View worksheet in the current workbook which will look something like the following:

If you do not have Silverlight installed, you will be prompted across the top of the Power View worksheet to do this. Click “Install” to install Silverlight. When the process completes, click the “Reload” button in the message bar to return to Power View.

In addition to the Power View worksheet, you should see a Power View tab with several options as shown below:

Because I started from a blank spreadsheet, I have no data I can use in my Power View report yet. In fact, the Power View Fields panel tells me that I need to create and select a range of cells with data and then click Power View from the Insert tab to proceed. For today’s quick example, I will create a simple table as shown below:

Once I’ve added this table to my Power View report worksheet, the Fields panel now shows me my active tables and the fields within those tables. Notice that numeric fields are automatically treated as aggregated sums. I can select the fields that I want to appear in my table by either clicking on the checkbox before the field name in the top half of the Power View Fields panel or I can drag the fields that I want down to the FIELDS box in the lower half of the panel. The advantage of dragging fields to the FIELDS box is that I can arrange the order of the fields here by dropping new fields in the position I want and I can even drag and drop fields later to rearrange the order of the fields in the table. The following figure shows the result of including all of the fields from the original table in my Power View table.

Of course if I don’t want to display all the fields, I can remove them by simply unchecking the check box in the upper portion of the Fields panel or I can use the dropdown menu to the right of any field in the FIELDS box to remove the field or change the aggregate function used for that field. For example, suppose I only was interested in the total student populations of each of the schools. I can simply remove the Student Grade column to achieve that result.

Next, suppose I wanted to have a second table or a chart on the same page. To do that, I begin by clicking in any blank area (not defined by the rectangle created by the first table). I then select the fields I want to include in my table or chart. In the example below, I use only the school name and student population just as was done in the first table.

I can then go to the Design ribbon associated with the Power View worksheet whose tab is displayed to the immediate right of the Power View tab. The first group contains options to switch the visualization of the data. The fourth icon, Other Chart, displays a dropdown that includes options to display the data as a line, scatter, and pie chart as shown below. There are some other interesting options in this ribbon like Map and Tiles that I will cover in future installments of this blog, but for now, let’s display a Pie chart of this data.

When I select PIE, Power View attempts to determine which fields to use for each part of the pie chart. In this case with only two fields, the answer is easy since only one of the fields is numeric. The numeric field is chosen as the size field that determines the size of the pie slice while the text field becomes the identifier of the slice which Power View calls Color. Note that there is no way currently to change the individual colors used in the pie chart. However, you can use the Themes dropdown in the Themes group of the Power View ribbon to change the color set used. Keep in mind that this can also change the font used for text on the page.

So what happened to Student Grades? If I click anywhere within the pie chart and the select the checkbox next to Student Grade in the Fields panel as shown below, Power View creates dividers in each of the schools that represent ‘sub-slices’ one for each grade in the school.

Unfortunately these sub-slices are not labelled so it is not possible to determine visually which slice belongs to each grade. Suppose we went back to the first table in this worksheet and added the Student Grade column back in as shown below.

Now the table includes a row for each grade with the number of students in that grade. At first you might say that did not help much.

However, if we click on any of the sub-slices in the pie chart, the table automatically filters to the information for that sub-slice/grade as shown below.

Ok, I know we have a lot more to learn about Power View and over the coming weeks, I will attempt to introduce you to its many other features. I also know that the charts created today were not that dissimilar to charts and table you could create with PowerPivot tables and charts. In fact, those tables and charts have a greater degree of formatting flexibility. However, we have to walk before we can run. In future segments, I will show how to create Power View charts that you could not create before.

Until then, C’ya!

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One comment on “A New View in Excel

  1. Pingback: Excel Roundup 20150601 « Contextures Blog

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